Monday, May 14, 2007

Our Enemies, Our Friends

Almost as if to emphasize the principle that there's no free lunch, trouble has broken out in Pakistan, where anti-Musharraf oppositionists are rallying around his dismissal of the Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Large riots have erupted in Karachi, sparked perhaps by the controversy over Chaudry, but fueled by the underlying ethnic conflicts of Pakistan. It is a reminder that the "realistic" foreign policy of working through local strongmen also has its limits.

According to Deutsche Presse-Agentur, the majority of the fighting occurred as armed members of Muttahida Qaumi Movement {MQM) clashed with members of Opposition parties. The pro-Musharraf MQM had planned a rally coinciding with Chaudhry's arrival to demonstrate their support of Musharraf's suspension of the Chief Justice

The rub is that the pro-Musharraf MQM is also a quasi-terrorist organization of seperatist Muhajirs. It is suggested that the MQM is yet another of the Frankenstein monsters created by the ISI. Captain Ed notes Musharaff's predilection for "working both sides of the street", although to be fair the divisive and toxic nature of Pakistani politics is of long standing. The India News has this analysis:

But behind this seemingly senseless violence lies a greater battle. A battle which has been in the making since the independence and the creation of Pakistan itself. ... The gun had been loaded long ago, the Chief Justice simply provided the spark. ...

Even till the 80’s a Pakistani middle class was virtually non-existent. But things have changed and today it is this middle class, although nowhere comparable to the Indian middle class, has formed the spear point of the attack on Musharraf and his military regime. It is this middle class that wants greater democracy, it wants greater freedom and also it is this middle class that looks towards India in appreciation and wishes that one day Pakistan could in someway be compared to India. And for that to happen President Musharraf and his military regime has to be relegated to the past and the democratic institutions in Pakistan renewed under the leadership of this emerging middle class.

The biggest problem with democracy in Pakistan is that it has never had a chance to work itself out being trampled by the military time and again which played the fundamentalist anti-India card to its advantage. President Musharraf himself might not be a fundamentalist but he certainly is a dictator. His efforts at donning the garb of a benevolent one are nothing but attempts to placate the middle class. But today that garb has been ripped off and the people of Karachi are finding out the true colours of their President.

So here is the situation as it stands today. There is a great anti-Musharraf wave that is running through Pakistan. The unjustified sacking of the country’s Chief Justice on March 9th is being perceived as a direct attack on the autonomy (if at all there was any) of the judiciary in the country. Subsequent attacks on journalists, lawyers and news channels such as Geo TV have further strengthened the view that there is no place for free speech in Pakistan. The members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a pro Musharraf Mohajir party based out of Karachi, is running amok killing opposition party members and sympathizers. The authorities on the other hand are simply turning a blind eye to all the bloodshed all the while trying to keep up the guise of intervening. Now the crisis in Karachi is dangerously taking on ethnic colours as Mohajirs are killing Pashtuns and vice versa. The entire Pakistani society has been split into two; on one hand we have the rising middle class (journalists, lawyers, service men etc.) and a league of right wing Islamic fundamentalists who Musharraf has managed to alienate through his pro-American policies and on the other we have the Mohajir President, his handpicked supporters in the parliament and his great army.

In other words Pakistan, never the most stable of countries, is now going through a political crisis in which the fractious, terrorist organizations, some of which were abetted by the government itself, others which arose in natural opposition -- all in the service of staying in power and maintaining its regional influence versus India -- in which these fractious organizations are playing a leading and destablilizing role. In Shelly's original Frankenstein the monster never dies.

As if to add emphasis to the problem, the New York Times reports that a group of American soldiers and civilians were ambushed on their return to Afghanistan from Pakistan after a meeting to discuss the clashes on the border of the two countries. Some accounts say it was the American's Pakistani escorts who opened fire. "One Pakistani official, who asked not to be named because he is not permitted to speak to reporters, said the gunman who fired on the team was wearing a uniform of the local Kurram tribal militia. The Afghan Defense Ministry gave a conflicting account, saying that a Pakistani soldier opened fire on the Americans at the meeting and then was shot and killed by other American soldiers."

Here is the downside of working through our allies in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan to contain radical Islamism and chaos. Sometimes the "solution" is part of the problem.


Blogger Aquarium said...

The Missing Context in Media Reporting on Iraq
By Gerd Schroeder, from the American Thinker

The US mainstream media are failing to provide the public the context it needs to accurately understand both the successes of our progress in Iraq.

I came to this harsh conclusion after studying the ongoing Brookings Institution Report titled "IRAQ INDEX Tracking Reconstruction and Security in Post-Saddam Iraq" for several months. The Brookings Institution is a left-of-center think tank, led by Bill Clinton's close friend Strobe Talbott. But its information in the Iraq Index is generally accurate and reliable. The information mainly comes from the US Military and other US governmental agencies' official statistics. It is updated at least weekly to provide in one place the most up to date information on the war that I have been able to find. Two small examples will suffice to show how neglect of context creates a misleading public impression

Very,vert illuminating

American Thinker

5/14/2007 03:05:00 PM  
Blogger Habu said...

Always, always side with the smart people, not the irrational ones
Jewish Genius

I have personal experience with the reluctance of Jews to talk about Jewish accomplishment—my co-author, the late Richard Herrnstein, gently resisted the paragraphs on Jewish IQ that I insisted on putting in The Bell Curve (1994). Both history and the contemporary revival of anti-Semitism in Europe make it easy to understand the reasons for that reluctance. But Jewish accomplishment constitutes a fascinating and important story. Recent scholarship is expanding our understanding of its origins.

And so this Scots-Irish Gentile from Iowa hereby undertakes to tell the story. I cover three topics: the timing and nature of Jewish accomplishment, focusing on the arts and sciences; elevated Jewish IQ as an explanation for that accomplishment; and current theories about how the Jews acquired their elevated IQ.

Jewish Genius

5/14/2007 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

“terrorist organizations, some of which were abetted by the government itself…”

It seems whenever we seek to appease, we embolden our enemies. Playing off sides of a conflict can work for a while but eventually the bill comes due and things become unmanageable. The participants want what was either promised to them, or worse, what they think they deserve. Musharraff has been playing with fire and it is a matter of time before he gets burned. India has the greatest stake upon a Pakistani democracy, but the UK and the US are shortly behind.

“Sometimes the "solution" is part of the problem.”

The same may come true of US policy in Iraq, an all inclusive government that was cobbled together with warring factions. This could be true for all our dealings with the Middle East; The ME seems rife with it.

5/14/2007 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Wretchard - Re pakistan riots: "It is a reminder that the "realistic" foreign policy of working through local strongmen also has its limits."
How about we try the Sharansky solution instead of crass realism? Let the noble purple-fingered freedom-lovers of Pakistan vote on who controls the nukes.

I'm sure if the noble people exercize their democratic will, we will be delighted and happy with whatever they decide.

5/14/2007 08:45:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...


Just because one solution has failed doesn't mean its opposite is going to work. One the reasons the purple-finger routine was tried was because the strongman route didn't work out so good. Sometimes I think that maybe certain situations in history are like an airplane in a dive with all the control cables cut. The pilot tries this, that and the other. And for all his effort he might as well have just watched the view.

5/15/2007 03:12:00 AM  
Blogger USpace said...

There are way too many lying and duplicitous bastards with too many overlapping tribal loyalties which will always trump dealing honestly with Westerners...

absurd thought -
God of the Universe wants
extremists to have NUKES

they are looking for fast track
to seventy-two virgins

7/09/2007 06:55:00 PM  

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